Step up to The Swedish Bistro Food Truck and fall into Scandinavian culinary nirvana.
Swedish Chef Karen Asmus Herke and her husband, Andre, teamed up with former Taverna Sous Chef Johnny Lee Weeks. The Herkes have worked in restaurants in Sweden, Germany and France, and Karen owned her own eatery, Sorgardens Gastgiveri in Linkoping, Sweden.
"Even though Sweden is recognized as one of the best culinary countries in the world, the most difficult part is getting people to try Swedish food, since it is not very well known in the U.S.," Andre Herke said. "The response has been great so far. We have only been in business for a couple of months, and we have many returning customers, which is a positive sign."
Like many, I'd never experienced Swedish meatballs or gravlax outside of an IKEA store's cafeteria, but once Swedish Bistro arrived, I was ready to sample offerings not available anywhere else in Jacksonville.
The Swedish meatballs ($8) — the truck's best-selling item — are served with a flavorful brown cream sauce, a mound of mashed potatoes, tangy pickled cucumber slices and a dollop of lingonberry jam. The contrast of ingredients makes a highly satisfying dish.
Also popular is the cold salmon wrap ($8): a tortilla stuffed with cold-cured salmon called gravlax, a Swedish honey mustard dill sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and red onion served with a side of potato wedges.
The Viking dog ($7) rolls up a beef hot dog, creamy dill shrimp salad and mashed potatoes in a wrap.
Vegetarians can try the black bean veggie burger ($8) with beet slaw, lettuce, red onion, pickled cucumbers, tomatoes and a side of potato wedges. The truck recently debuted veggie rolls ($8) — a colorful ratatouille of eggplant, squash, tomatoes, onion, garlic and red peppers fried in crisp eggroll-like skins and served with a mint and cumin yogurt dipping sauce. A heap of shredded-cabbage-and-carrot salad is served alongside two rolls.
Swedish chocolate balls ($3) are a must: Perfectly sweet, the classic Swedish dessert is easy to make and to eat; no baking or utensils required. Oatmeal, cocoa, butter and coconut sprinkles are rolled into orbs of goodness.
Full disclosure: I am a co-founder of Jax Truckies which hosts food truck events and posts locations of food trucks daily, including The Swedish Bistro.